Lace up, strap in, and get ready to discover the heart and soul of Texas: its iconic cowboy culture. The Texan cowboy is symbolic to the state’s image: a distinctive social subculture, a unique style of dress and a lifetime’s worth of acquired riding skills – on both horse and cattle.
Spending five minutes in the scorching Texan sun can take its toll, let alone a whole day on horseback, so it is important to be correctly dressed. Aesthetics meets ergonomics with the cowboy hat. There are many different styles, but the popular wide rimmed, pastel colored hat will keep a cowboy shaded from the baking midday sun, as well as setting them apart in the world of cowboy fashion. Cowboy boots, known for high heels and high rise sides are also designed with practicalities in mind: the heel stops the shoe from slipping out of the stirrups, and the high top protects against the elements. The boots may also feature detachable spurs on the heels, made infamous by the wild west on the silver screen. Finally, denim is de rigueur, with sturdy jeans and a thick comfy jacket needed to keep the dust off and for protection from the elements and animals. A couple of optional extras are the belt with a chunky buckle, some deer skin gloves and a red patterned neckerchief to protect a cowboy from breathing in too much dust.
Rodeo cowboys are now professionals in their own right, but the original working cowboys (as they are now known) would work on ranches and then display their skills at the rodeo show. Despite all the clichés, attending a rodeo is one of the most exhilarating and authentic experiences you can do in Texas. Most large towns in the state will hold regular rodeo’s that take place in the town’s bull ring. The rodeo activities include a number of tasks that Cowboys need to know for working on the ranch. Competitions like calf roping, where the Cowboy on horseback chases after a calf, lassos it, and ties it up are key skills needed for working on the ranch, but others like barrel racing (where riders race a slalom course between barrels) and bull riding (where the Cowboy attempts to cling on to a bucking bull) are just for a bit of adrenalin-pumping fun. During the intermission there will be a heap of western-themed entertainment acts, music and even trick riding to keep the audience occupied.
DANCING AND MUSIC
Country and Western music and dancing are synonymous with Cowboy culture, and are the best ways of socialising in Texas. “Kicker dancing” as the locals call it occurs in many of the bars. Another common style is square and line dancing, ideal for anyone too shy to dance with a partner. The musical themes often feature references to cowboy culture, and the style has also taken influence from the genres of big band, boogie, bluegrass, jazz and rockabilly, leading to an amalgamation of sounds that can only be experienced by visiting an authentic bar. Glide your way onto the dance floor and follow the lead of the others as they scoot and shimmy with effortless elegance.